Title: The Great and Only Barnum: The Tremendous Stupendous Life of Showman P.T. Barnum
Author: Candace Fleming
Recommended for: 5th grade and up
Call Number/Link: J B Barnum
Synopsis: It is unlikely that Barnum ever actually said “There’s a sucker born every minute,” but he freely admitted to being a master of the “humbug”—a spectacle that both fooled and entertained the public. This highly readable biography uses primary sources, including Barnum’s own words, to trace the man’s roller-coaster life from his boyhood in Connecticut to his early career as the creator of the country’s most famous “museums” (comparable to sideshows) to his later role as the master of enormously successful circuses, winning and losing several fortunes along the way. Fleming captures Barnum’s exuberant personality and describes how his gift for promotion and dedication to delivering what the public wanted made him the world’s most famous showman. She also reveals the private Barnum, a man who valued culture, had deep religious beliefs, and devoted considerable time and funds to charity and public service. Fleming is admiring of Barnum, but does not dismiss his weaknesses and faults. The text is supplemented with sidebars and reproductions of period photos and illustrations, including several of Barnum’s advertisements. The bibliography includes Web sites and a selection of primary- and secondary-source books, and notes are done in paragraph format. This book goes beyond traditional biography to give students an objective and informative glimpse into the sometimes-exploitative world of 19th-century entertainment. An outstanding choice for all middle level and secondary collections.
Another biography with an awsome title. I actually read this a while ago a just pulled it out again to re-read. Who wouldn’t want to read a biography of Barnum? Especially ones with pictures of sideshows, bearded ladies, and other circus performers. It’s a great look at how we’ve changed in our definition of ‘entertainment’ and how we view those who are ‘different’. Barnum is also the man who basically created ‘celebrity’, publicity and marketing. He was a larger than life man who lead a larger than life existance. Another awesome biography that’s more than just facts and figures. It really does help bring Barnum and his world to life.